If music is the food of love, play on!...
Kęstutis (Kest) began performing as a professional musician at the age of fourteen with the Joseph Snukst Orchestra, a thirteen piece big band that performed throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. This ensemble specialized in being able to perform every possible ethnic type of music no matter what occasion. Big Band jazz, showtunes, Dixieland, blues, pop, polkas, waltzes, mazurkas, fandangos and any and all contemporary music was tailored for any ethnic group or desire.
This ensemble exposed him to live concerts to the music of Miles Davis, Sarah Vaugh, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Cannonball Adderly and even Eddie Blaconczyk and his Polka Kings to Walter Jagiello – Li’l Wally and the Polkaholixs. Quite a mixture of music!
Kest started composition studies when he turned 15 years old, at the American Conservatory of Music. On the North side of Chicago, at the age of 17, he opened a coffeehouse so that he and his friends could have a place to perform their original compositions. They formed an ensemble and named it Eckankar. But they wanted to perform on the east coast and then in Europe. The band moved to the forests of Vermont where they would practice every day all day in an old barn. They then relocated to Boston. In 1970 they recorded their first album “Eckankar”, which was released in 1971, (Kest was 19 years old.) They performed all throughout the New England and New York areas, including opening concerts for
Ike and Tina Turner and the J. Geils band in coffeehouses and clubs.
Currently there is a book that will be released about the music scene in Boston in the 1970’s and Kest is a part of this. Eventually Eckankar broke up and Kest returned to Chicago where he performed in a wide variety of Jazz ensembles. Most notably he started to work with the Otis Rush Blues Band with Jimmy Dawkins on second guitar. They performed throughout Chicago and even the Ann Arbor Jazz and Blues Festival that featured Otis Rush, Miles Davis, Bonnie Rait, The AACM and many other great performers at that time. Atlantic records released a two album set of the performances that Kest was a part of.
In 1973 Kest decided he wanted to perform his own original music so he organized “Streetdancer” and a year later released his first record in 1974. The band received a 5 star review from Downbeat magazine, the most prominent Jazz magazine at that time. They received extensive airplay from Chicago radio stations. Their second release was in 1975 with a number of other record albums and CD’s released after that. Billboard Magazine and Jazz Times chose Streetdancer twice in their prestigious Jazz Picks of the week. Click here for Chicago Reader.
Kest has performed in concert with everyone from Jean Luc Ponty, Thelma Houston, Minnie Riperton, Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon, Miroslav Vitous, JC Heartsfield, Doug Carn, John Klemmer, Pat Martino, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Johnny Winter, Von Freeman, Paul Harvey Ensemble, Hamid Drake, John Scofield, Chico Freeman, Ari Brown, Henry Threadgill, Fred Anderson, Andrius Mamontovas, Gytis Paskevicius, Neda, Stasys Povilaitis, Ovidijus Vysniauskas, Arina, Gediminas Zujus, Veronika Povilioniene, Room Full of Blues, Billy Branch and the Sons of the Blues, Richard Abrams, Otis Rush, Aldegunda and Miles Davis.
He had composed music for dance and theater and performed at the Goodman Theater, The Organic Theater, MoMing Dance and Arts Center, The Chicago Contemporary Dance Theatre, Columbia College, Brandeis University’s production of Goethe’s Faust, the Boston Esplanade and participated in Jazz at the historic Old West Church Massachusetts, Choping Theater, Athenaeum Theater. Kest and his band "Streetdancer" are included in a History of the Chicago Music scene.
Producer, musician, composer, performer, arranger, recording artist.
Kęstutis Stančiauskas can be contacted at email@example.com